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Village Parents Brace for Pre-K Crunch When Children's Aid Society Closes

By Andrea Swalec | February 3, 2012 7:25am
The Children's Aid Society is preparing to leave its two buildings at 219 Sullivan St. in June 2012 to make way for luxury condos.
The Children's Aid Society is preparing to leave its two buildings at 219 Sullivan St. in June 2012 to make way for luxury condos.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

MANHATTAN — Village parents on the hunt for pre-kindergarten seats for their children have one less option as the Children's Aid Society prepares to leave its 12-year home on Sullivan Street.

The nonprofit is vacating two buildings at 219 Sullivan St. in June to make way for luxury condos and is discontinuing its 200-student preschool programs for children ages 2 to 5, Antonia Abram, the center's arts director, told DNAinfo.

"This really is one of the last affordable places in the Village for arts programming and nursery school," Abram said. "Everyone is pretty devastated about [the closure] and trying to figure out where to send their kids."

Parent Luke McGrath said he and his wife, Viviana Bromberg, are casting a wide net to find a pre-K program for their 4-year-old daughter now that Children's Aid is leaving the Village. It's been a low-cost option in a neighborhood where free, public pre-K seats are scarce.

"There are so many kids who would normally not be in the process whose families are now looking [for schools]," he said. "There really aren't many public schools that are offering seats."

In May, the nonprofit that runs 11 children's programming centers citywide opted to sell the Sullivan Street buildings for $33 million to support its work in neighborhoods that are needier than the Village, CEO and president Richard Buery told The New York Times.

Children's Aid's third building in the Village, at 177 Sullivan St., is on the market but will continue to offer early childhood programs for infants and children up to age 2 for the foreseeable future, spokesman Anthony Ramos said.

The official pre-K application process begins March 5, when directories on the number of available seats will become available, according to the Department of Education. 

Competition is steep. For the 2011-2012 school year, P.S. 3 at 490 Hudson St. received 286 applications for 72 pre-kindergarten seats, according to DOE records. The Spruce Street School, at 52 Chambers St., a mile and a half south, had 364 students vying for 72 seats.

The Department of Education uses a complex system of priorities to fill the coveted seats, which include half-day and full-day programs. First priority goes to younger siblings of current students in a school, then to children who live in a school's zone, then to those who live in a school's district and finally to those who live in the borough.

Children's Aid's arts and recreation programs, which serve about 350 children each year, will move to Greenwich House at 27 Barrow St., Abram said.

"There is a really beautiful pottery building there, so all of our pottery classes will be bigger and better," Abram said. "There's a great gym space, so kids will be able to continue basketball, soccer and yoga."

The New Acting Company, which will lose its 100-seat theater at 219 Sullivan St., is currently looking for a new home, its director told DNAinfo.